A year and a bit in Lifehack — Simon

A year with Lifehack

Something of a review of time

From where it began


April 2015 feels like a long time ago, especially given how this journey has been so full and emergent. I often look back at how things have progressed and wonder how I have managed to complete as much as I have, but also what I have not managed to do.


When starting with Lifehack in April last year it was an exercise of being thrown in the deep end. There’s no better way to learn about the way an organisation does what it does than to jump in feet first, and start working on core projects.


The team itself are an eclectic bunch, all from different professional backgrounds and walks of life. This embodies what I was told about Lifehack, and it’s Social Lab construct — to tackle wicked problems in our diverse world, you need to be diverse yourself, without homogeneity, embracing your own unique way of being.


Being from different backgrounds means having different experiences, seeing things in different lights, with our own unique perspectives. Mine was as a designer, as someone who’s had lived experience and as a result becoming someone who is passionate about changing the systems affecting young people’s’ wellbeing in Aotearoa. For me personally this stems from wanting to change the experience and journey of those young people who come after me, making it not quite as rough.


Lifehack felt, and still feels, like coming home. It was a place where I could see and effect change. The extraordinary thing about beginning at Lifehack was feeling like it was a place of security into which we could reach out into the wide world, to have a sustainable impact on a diverse group of people.

How to do


A sentence that has stuck with me throughout the work we have undertaken has been that we are the work. Lifehack and many organisations are shaped by the people within it, that how you do the work and what impact you have is shaped by those who undertake it. I’ve wondered about the validity of that statement for a while, coming to the conclusion as I look back at the last year that it is the truth. The changes we’ve all made, the relationships we’ve established, and where we’re going strategically is based around who we are as people — reminding me that people are always at the heart of everything we do.


I hold a huge amount of respect for my team. The last year has been revelatory for me, having learned new and wonderful things, including more about myself and how I better thrive in any work I choose to pursue. I have a huge amount of thanks for all of the disagreements we’ve had, the challenges we’ve faced together, the laughter and the tears.


One of the fondest memories that I have is the first Flourishing Fellowship Hui in 2015. As with all of Lifehack’s programmes and events, we were trying something new, and this can take a toll mentally and emotionally. It has been sometimes hard to comprehend what this work is to each of us, the what it does to the soul, the mind, the body. Lifehack for me has taught me how to look after myself better, look after my wellbeing and notice more around me. Taught this through the different members of the team, by doing things wrong and by not look after myself — when you’re working in and on the wellbeing of young people you need to be well yourself. I’ve come to understand, in order to be well enough to champion wellbeing you need to be well yourself, that starts in the workplace.


“I’ve come to understand, in order to be well enough to champion wellbeing you need to be well yourself, that starts in the workplace”


Within work where you’re tackling wicked issues, keeping well can be difficult, it can require you to decide and prioritise which piece of the work that needs to be done first; especially hard when everything is both important and urgent. How do you pick which task is more important and urgent? A huge learning for me was to realise that the task most important is the one that can be done well. How do you do a task well? First you must be well enough to do it, this means you need to look after yourself; we’re so prone to over-working and driving ourselves into the ground because we hold ourselves at the will and be controlled by such monstrous tasks.


Second you need to be able to give it the fullest attention it deserves — do that task justice.


My own journey of wellbeing, and hellbeing


Over the last 18 months I’ve experienced times where I’ve been flourishing and languishing. A hard lesson I’ve learnt through working as a part of the Lifehack team is responsibility for myself, for those around me, for the work, for the impact we’re seeking to make. Inside this responsibility I’ve been thinking and learning about what responsibility means, and how to see the limits of it. It’s easy to feel responsible for something, but at what point do you say, “no, that’s not my weight to bear”? Part of my own experiences in this work is to see and clearly define and act upon what I am responsible for, even though within in this there’s space for movement — and to balance what you’re responsible for with what your team needs from you; this makes sure the team is well lubricated for maximum performance and happiness.


I can’t express how much gratitude I feel for the team I’ve been working with, they’ve all been amazing in how they support me and each other with whatever life throws at us. To know that your team has your back, and will go to the end of the world to make sure you’re well is truly an amazing gift.


Signing off


My last day with Lifehack is Thursday the 29th June 2016. All of this began back in April 2015. While this is a relatively short period of time in my life, both personal and professional, I’ve felt an immense amount of growth, a feeling becoming a better person, more aware, more alive, and more aligned with my own values as they themselves have changed.


Part of the journey now is to use what I’ve learned, and how I’ve grown to continue to search and find the rest of the puzzle pieces. First off is to take another look at my 生き甲斐 (ikigai), or my reason for being (Japanese); using this diagram…

I’d suggest you do the same.




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